In situ detection of microorganisms by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a powerful tool for environmental microbiology, but analyses can be hampered by low rRNA content in target organisms, especially in oligotrophic environments. Here, we present a non-enzymatic, hybridization chain reaction (HCR)-based signal amplified in situ whole-cell detection technique (in situ DNA-HCR). The components of the amplification buffer were optimized to polymerize DNA amplifier probes for in situ DNA-HCR. In situ hybridization of initiator probes followed by signal amplification via HCR produced bright signals with high specificity and probe permeation into cells. The detection rates for Bacteria in a seawater sample and Archaea in anaerobic sludge samples were comparable with or greater than those obtained by catalyzed reporter deposition (CARD)-FISH or standard FISH. Detection of multiple organisms (Bacteria, Archaea and Methanosaetaceae) in an anaerobic sludge sample was achieved by simultaneous in situ DNA-HCR. In summary, in situ DNA-HCR is a simple and easy technique for detecting single microbial cells and enhancing understanding of the ecology and behaviour of environmental microorganisms in situ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics